Rock Star (15)

Review by Jack Foley

MARK Wahlberg may have scaled the Box Office heights when he played a spaceman earlier in the summer, but his attempts at playing a singer failed to make the sort of impression on the charts he had hoped for.

Rock Star became the first flop of the US autumn season, limping to a $17 million take, which is a shame, for while it is in no way a classic, there is much to enjoy in its simplistic tale of following your dreams and not becoming seduced by excess.

Inspired by the true story of office supply salesman Tim 'Ripper' Owens, who went from fronting a tribute band to replacement for singer Rob Halford in Judas Priest, the movie treads a familiar but no less enjoyable path through the excesses of the rock world, daring to step where the likes of Almost Famous feared to tread with varying degrees of success.

Set during the Eighties, Wahlberg is Chris 'Izzy' Cole, a photocopier by day and lead singer of a tribute band by night, whose freakish devotion to emulating his heroes on stage leads to a rift with his other band members.

Sacked and down on his luck, Cole is suddenly plucked from obscurity and given the chance to front Steel Dragon when his idols fall out with their lead singer, quickly becoming a rock idol to milions. But as drugs, booze and women take over, he quickly finds himself alienated from those around him, especially his devoted girlfriend, Emily (convincingly played by Friends' Jennifer Aniston).

Produced by George Clooney, Rock Star, in concept and design, is rather like a good cover version - hardly original but, done properly, a pleasant enough diversion. It doesn't pretend to be anything that it is not and delivers a fair share of cheap thrills.

Principle among them is Aniston's inspired turn as Wahlberg's girlfriend, who is stronger here than in anything she has previously done
away from the set of Friends, while Timothy Spall crops up as a suitably sleazy road manager.

Wahlberg, also, makes for a convincing rocker, although a large part of the film's success lies in whether you can appreciate his blind devotion to music and his single minded pursuit of perfection.

The first half of the movie is also tremendous fun, particularly as we watch Cole taking his first tentative steps into the rock world.

Ultimately, however, you cannot escape the feeling that this has been done better before and the lack of few genuine surprises - aside from one hilarious morning after the night before moment - makes this a familiar, even lazy, re-tread through celluloid rock n roll. That it lacks the charm of Almost Famous is another fault, arriving so soon in its wake.

Still, if rock and roll is your thing and you seek nothing more than to be entertained for nearly two hours, then it may be worth tuning in.